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A decade of digital: What publishers can learn from Google and Facebook

What's New in Publishing 29 Apr 2020 07:15

OPINION

Facebook and Google have dominated the digital advertising space for over a decade, with their combined share of UK digital ad spend forecast to reach 70% by 2021. Yet the secret to their success isn’t actually a secret at all. It lies quite clearly in their extensive addressable audiences, which advertisers can target at a people-based level.

Bands of addressability

Most online publishers can also achieve a limited degree of addressability through third-party IDs, such as cookies, which act as a proxy for identity and enabling tracking and targeting capabilities. When a cookie is dropped on a user’s browser it can be used to associate certain attributes with that user – perhaps what they are interested in based on the content they are reading – even if it doesn’t specifically identify who they personally are. 

But cookies are ineffective and unreliable as a source of identity. For instance, if one individual accesses a news website on their work laptop over lunch, and then checks it again on their smartphone on the way home, they will be treated as two separate users with two distinct IDs, resulting in a disjointed view of the user, and consequentially receive inconsistent and irrelevant advertising experiences. Privacy and consent problems associated with third-party cookies have led to restrictions in their use on the digital platforms and tougher measures from regulators. As a result, the already limited addressability publishers could achieve is set to disappear.   

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